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Historical Landmarks

Historical Timeline

  • OCTOBER 2016

    Hurricane Matthew pummels Haiti. National authorities draw on lessons learnt during a WHO training session on EMT coordination in Costa Rica the month before. The WHO Regional Office for the Americas activates its local emergency team and deploys additional experts. The Haitian government accepts assistance from the Netherlands Marine Corps and EMTs from Guadeloupe and Martinique.

  • JUNE 2016

    As a response to the lessons learnt from Ebola and an outcome of WHO Reform the EMT unit is markedly expanded as part of a new emergencies section of the Organization. Trainings, capacity building and working groups become more active, and the mentorship and peer review verification process expands.

  • APRIL 2016

    A 7.8 magnitude earthquake strikes Ecuador. The country’s government and Pan American Health Organization (WHO’s Regional Office for the Americas) co-lead coordination. Ecuador deploys 22 national teams within hours. They are assisted by seven international teams from Colombia, Germany, Israel, Peru, Spain, and the United States of America – all meeting international standards.

  • FEBRUARY 2016

    Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston, a powerful cyclone, ravages Fiji. At least 88 of the 214 health facilities throughout Fiji are damaged. Coordinating with WHO’s EMT Initiative and the Ministry of Health, Australia’s National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre deploys the day after landfall, bringing in emergency physicians and surgeons among others, to support national EMTs.

  • DECEMBER 2015

    At a global meeting in Panama, participants reach key agreements on the strategic governance and direction of the EMT initiative. They abandon the previously used term – “Foreign Medical Teams” and adopt the term “Emergency Medical Team” to reflect an emphasis on building national teams and establishing ties between teams in neighbouring countries.

  • JULY 2015

    WHO launches the FMT Classification List which sets minimum standards and allows teams to clearly outline their services and skills, and an online system where they can register. More than 70 organizations or teams apply in the first year to be supported and mentored and subsequently demonstrate their quality and be verified.

  • MARCH 2015

    Severe Tropical Cyclone Pam causes one of the worst national disasters in the history of Vanuatu, a southern Pacific archipelago nation with a quarter-of-a- million people spread over more than 80 islands. With coordination from the Ministry of Health, supported by WHO, 28 teams including 169 medical staff are deployed.

  • FEBRUARY 2015

    The first Global meeting of FMTs is hosted in Geneva, mainly focussing on the ongoing Ebola outbreak; and also addressing next steps for the WHO initiative and its national and regional approaches

  • JULY 2014

    As the Ebola outbreak in West Africa spreads exponentially, WHO mobilizes FMTs. Teams with no previous history of dealing with Ebola bravely step forward, but need guidance and assistance. WHO ultimately brings in a total of 58 teams, building treatment units with the help of the United Kingdom and the United States of  America.

  • FEBRUARY 2014

    With support from UK and Australia, a new unit at WHO dedicated to enhancing the impact of Emergency Medical Teams (still called FMTs at that time) is tasked with building a new system allowing teams to register and be classified; and to run regional training exercises. Another goal is closer collaboration with UN and other partner organizations.